Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster, 2011  326 pgs
Grades 6-9
Science Fiction/Adventure

Michael Vey is an "almost" normal boy living an unassuming life with his mother in a small town in Idaho.  "Almost" because he is plagued by Tourette's Syndrome, a condition that causes uncontrollable ticking and flinching, plus the fact that he is electric.  He can shock people by touching them and can even work his electricity through a metal conductor.  Only his super-smart best friend Ostin knows about his secret abilities until he meets classmate and popular cheerleader, Taylor, who has the ability to "reboot" people's minds.  They form a club called the "Electroclan" to dig into research to try to figure out the cause of their abilities.  Taylor discovers that both she and Michael were born in the same hospital within days of each other.  Further research uncovers the testing of a new electric machine at the same location and time.  Then: Taylor disappears.  Next, Michael's mother is kidnapped and he must ban with the school bullies (who can drive and have a car) and Ostin to travel to California to try to save her.  At this point in the book the point of view alternates between Taylor, who is being held prisoner by the evil scientist Dr. Hatch, and Michael, who travels to and tries to break into the same facility.  By the end the two stories come together as Michael and Taylor and their friends try to escape from Dr. Hatch and save the other kids with similar electric powers who are under Hatch's thumb.  But where is Michael's mother?  Will Dr. Hatch succeed in gathering the remaining electric kids and achieving world domination?  Who is Dr. Hatch working for?  These and other questions will be answered in the following books in the series, the second being Rise of the Elgen.

The Michael Vey series is the perfect pick to put into the hands of middle school boys, though girls will like it too!.  Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25 reads like a comic book with breath-taking action and cool super-powers.  Kids will identify with Michael as he turns from regular guy to superhero.  Michael begins the book as an underdog nerd, who suffers from Tourette's and shyness.  As the book progresses he gains confidence and mastery over his electrical powers.  Michael leads the rag-tag group of electric kids who are against Dr. Hatch to a full-scale jail break, destroying the evil lair in the process.  Meanwhile, by books end, it is intimated that his relationship with the popular cheerleader is heading towards romance.  Not bad for a boy who cannot utter a sentence without practically going into convolutions at the beginning of the story.  The electric powers are most definitely cool and its interesting that all the kids have a slight variation on how their powers work.  The back story is almost believable and kids will buy it with no questions asked.  The story steamrolls ahead and the action never stops, making this a great choice for reluctant readers.  The book ends with the now expanded Electroclan venturing to save Michael's mother, which will be an easy hook to lead readers to the next installment.  The cover is intriguing and will help to sell the book to its audience.  Richard Paul Evans is an adult best-selling author and he knows how to reach readers.  Hand this one to fans of Alex Rider, the Maze Runner series or James Patterson books for teens.

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